Focus of Clintonville schools discussed
By Erik Buchinger
The Clintonville School Board held a special meeting to discuss the direction and focus of the school district on Thursday, June 29.
“We as a board felt that we needed to look at a vision or a direction for this board to take,” School Board President Ben Huber said. “We have several new members, and it’s been a while since we’ve done any visioning of any sort, so we thought it might make sense to look that way. This is us putting our toe in the water with our first attempts.”
Clintonville High School Principal Lance Bagstad said to create a vision statement, it is important to involve the community.
“If there’s a visioning process that happens, it has to be with the board members, administrators, teachers, support staff, food service, custodial and parent groups,” Bagstad said. “Maybe it involves people like [City Administrator] Sharon Eveland at the city level because the stakeholders have to own that vision statement if that vision statement is going to be lived.”
Bagstad warned the board to be patient and figure out what it is that it is hoping for.
“Be aware of the process that is going to take a while to make sure it is what people live, believe and can drive forward because the people that have to live it every single day in the classroom and community in the buildings are the ones who have to move that vision forward,” Bagstad said.
Director of Teaching and Learning Amy Bindas said it is important for teachers to carry out the vision statement.
“Vision statements are only as good as the teachers you put them on basically, and like you said, it’s the stakeholders in the community that take them, embrace them and act them out,” Bindas said. “Going through that process and refreshing that process and having the board ask for feedback on how it’s going regularly.”
Bagstad said there was a vision statement created at the high school a few years ago, and the administration’s job was specifically to support the staff’s vision.
“That was our only job as the administrative team,” Bagstad said. “We didn’t create the vision, we weren’t involved in that process, other than facilitating it. That, I think has to be a key component. Once that vision is created, as a board, what are the policy decisions that lead to that vision that support that vision moving forward? I think that’s a key component to creating that.”
The high school’s vision statement is “excellence, effort and ethics – every student – every day.”
“Those three words need to drive every decision, every comment, every thought, every question and I don’t know if that’s happening right now,” Bagstad said. “I’m not sure we are doing all those three things on a regular basis.”
School Board Clerk Jim Dins asked if the visions should be the same for elementary, middle and high schools.
“I think it should be a common vision that goals are created to support,” Bagstad said.
Bindas said on Aug. 9, the building leadership team will meet to discuss where the district is at, looking what is being done and analyzing data.
“We’ll be leading our action plans and determining how we’re going to go about doing that,” Bindas said.
Despite several advantages, the community sometimes perceives the parts of the district as struggling, according to Huber.
“We have, our district, I think many advantages,” Huber said. “We have in general, pretty good children, we have very good staff in general, but sometimes there are times when at least parts of the public perceive parts of districts as being inadequate or failing.”
Bindas said everyone buying in to the district’s vision can improve public perception.
“Buying in comes from everyone in this room, associated in the school district who talks to 25 people outside of this room on a daily basis and has good things to say, trust is built,” Bindas said. “If some people are feeling uneasy and if some people are feeling not pride in the district for one reason or another, the community senses that. They sense whether or not we are divided, and they sense whether or not we have a vision.”
Huber said not being fully immersed in the schools on a regular basis is a reason the board decided to hold the special meeting.
“One of the problems a board has is we are individual members who are not fully employed in the district,” Huber said. “We are not fully immersed in schools and the language of the schools. We just want to get together to be able to talk about some of the things we don’t get to talk about during regular board meetings, and we just collectively thought that we needed to talk about some of these things. Not necessarily start a new visioning process but to maybe refamiliarize ourselves with the visioning process that has already gone on. We just want to get a feel of what we do and don’t know.”
Clintonville Middle School Principal Troy Kuhn stressed the importance of deciding on a vision statement.
“I thought of putting it right in my office because your decisions should be made off of that – whatever your mission or vision is, so it is extremely important,” Kuhn said. “When parents and kids walk in, they should see that and know what it is, almost that they see it so much that it’s memorized. I’ll have it right on the wall, and my decision is based off of what the school board and everybody agreed upon. Going through that process needs to be involved with everybody so everybody has ownership in it.”